The Competition is Fierce


My parents are in a hurry for me to sit up. It’s not enough for them that I already EatRollSquealFlailSleepLaughBabbleCry in 90 minute cycles day in and day out. No. They want more.

I think they are feeling overly competitive. And, to be sure, there is a lot of competiton. My friend C____ is already sitting up and crawling. His mother says he eats avocado, he enjoys a good steak and also drinks tea. His mother says he is studying to become a radiologist and will be the first baby to be certified in California.

Ok, fine.  I’m working on sitting up, okay?

Somebody ask them to pay more attention to me, less attention to their aspirations for me. For example, as you can see in the photo, they pick up spinach at the farmer’s market which I have no interest in eating.  Hey, mom and dad, don’t you remember?  I only eat things that are yellow and orange.  I wonder sometimes if they even read this blog.

Babies, I don’t have to tell you, develop at different rates. Will C____ someday land a better job than I because he is eating avocado at eight months?  Will his ability to sit up and crawl indicate some twenty years down the line that he will pass his bar exam on the first try? Come on.

There is a little girl in my yoga class named G_____ who runs around stealing everyone else’s toys. (Her mother has to break out of downward dog to give them all back.)  Does this indicate that, decades later, G_____ will work at a bank and run around taking away people’s homes by foreclosing on them?  I think not.

It is an often-repeated factoid (and possibly not true) that Thomas Edison tried ten thousand different filiments before hitting on the wire that became the lightbulb. What is not documented (and also, possibly not true) is that as a baby Edison attempted to sit up fifteen thousand times before mastering it. So I am in good company.

Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favorite authors, writes that achieving proficiency at anything requires ten thousand hours of practice. Bill Gates, Gladwell wrote, had ten thouand hours of coding before he connected with something useful. The Beatles, Gladwell wrote, played ten thousand hours in bars and clubs before they had a hit.  I know that Sir Paul had a rough go (as he would put it) of learning how to crawl. He’s a pretty decent singer anyway.

Mom, Dad, the point is that these things take time.  How about noticing what I am really working on?  I am making an intense, daily study of the science of banging on things to see what kind of noise they make. Every day I use the shutters off the front porch to send signals to the ships at sea.  Of course, a minor concern is that there are no ships out on the street where I live. But one day, should a ship appear on our street, I will be more than prepared to signal it. I can turn the pages of Goodnight Moon as you read it to me. I cackle with delight at merely being outside in the sunshine. How many people can you say do that? There is very little cackling at sunshine going on, I can tell you that.

I ask that you not become hyperfocused on what you see as my milestones, and stop worrying about what C____ is doing, or G_____ with her fast hands, or any other baby.  Their ability now to eat broccoli and drink beer will not have any influence on their marketability, employment status or dateability decades down the line.

I know how to signal ships at sea.  That’s what I’m working on now. Deal with it. I also have my hands full with this cat.


4 thoughts on “The Competition is Fierce

  1. just stumbled upon your blog and loved this post. we should all follow your son’s words of wisdom.

    (though if he is refusing to eat avocado, i think there is brilliance bubbling under the surface. those other avocado-eating babies are just fools. don’t they know they should hold out for bananas?).


  2. Lee:

    Your son is wise beyond his months. I’ve shared his insights on vaccines with my daughter who just blessed me with my fourth granddaughter. I don’t know what her mom thought about his blog but I’m quite sure when little one was briefly awake yesterday she gave me a solemn nod of agreement. Two weeks old and already reading–must be those prenatal vitamins.


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